Crammed Discs



Kaloli is the debut full-length CD from Kampala’s darkest electro-percussion group Nihiloxica. The album marries the propulsive Ugandan percussion of the Nilotika Cultural Ensemble with technoid analog synth lines and hybrid kit playing from the UK’s pq and Spooky-J. The result is something otherworldly. Kaloli journeys through the uncharted space between two cultures of dance music, where the expression of traditional elements mutates into something more sinister and nihilistic.

The album takes its name from the Luganda word for the marabou stork. Kaloli are carrion birds that can be seen amassing in areas of festering waste around the country, particularly in Kampala, with its heightened levels of urban pollutio n.

Since 2017 the band have honed their sound in residence at Nyege Nyege’s Boutiq Studio in Kampala, one of the most vital cultural melting pots on the continent. Their debut self-titled EP for the acclaimed Ugandan label was an immediate success. An auspicious project between two UK musicians and a Kampala-based percussion troupe, Nilotika Cultural Ensemble, sparked a musical dialogue across continents with the aim to fuse two distanced cultures of dance music into one aural entity. The synergy between the group was instantaneous. The EP was composed, rehearsed and recorded with a minimal studio setup in the space of a month, giving Nihiloxica a rawness and brutality that pushed it into best-of-year lists across the world.

Recorded with Ross Halden at Hohm Studios, directly after a concert supporting Aphex Twin at Red Bull Music London 2019, Kaloli captures the vitality of Nihiloxica’s show-stopping live performances and magnifies it with pq’s honest, powerful production.

At the heart of every song is a groove, a drum pattern to be explored and developed. Each takes us through a different rhythmic territory: Busoga from the east of Uganda, Bwola from the north, Gunjula from the central region, Buganda.

The soundscape is dominated by the ancestral Bugandan drum set, consisting of Alimansi Wanzu Aineomugisha and Jamiru Mwanje on the engalabi (long drums - a tall Ugandan sister to the djembe), Henry Kasoma on the namunjoloba (a set of four small, high pitched drums) and&n bsp;Henry Isabirye on the empuunyi (a set of three low pitched bass drums). Wanzu also plays the ensaasi (shakers). One of the major additions to the sonic palette of Kaloli are the electronic drum sounds used more increasingly by Jacob Maskell-Key (Spooky J), providing an additional link between worlds, evident as electro-percussive punctuation on Salongo and Gunjula. The patterns beaten out by the ensemble are then explored harmonically and spectrally by the synths of Peter Jones (pq), stretching and searching for hooks and sounds among the rhythmic mayhem like kaloli picking and poking through decaying matter.